South Africa woman jailed for newborn baby kidnapping 19 years ago

The biological father of Zephany Joy Nurse (not pictured) Morne Nurse (centre) leaves the Cape Town High court on August 15.
The biological father of Zephany Joy Nurse (not pictured) Morne Nurse (centre) leaves the Cape Town High court on August 15. PHOTO: AFP

Johannesburg (AFP) - A South African court on Monday (Aug 15) handed down a 10-year prison term to a woman who kidnapped a newborn baby from her sleeping mother in hospital 19 years ago, South African media reported.

In passing the sentence, a judge in the High Court in Cape Town emphasised the seriousness of the crime by the 52-year-old woman, News24 said.

The woman had in March been convicted of kidnapping the baby and raising her for 17 years before an astonishing coincidence reunited the girl with her biological family.

She had claimed to have been handed the baby at a train station after entering into a private "adoption" programme.

The woman cannot be named to protect the identity of the kidnapped girl who is known to the media as Zephany Joy Nurse, the name her biological parents had given her.

The girl's real identity came to light in February last year, when her younger biological sister began attending high school and pupils pointed out her remarkable likeness to a final-year student.

The younger girl told her parents, who met the older girl and immediately believed she was their long-lost baby.

They called the police, and DNA tests confirmed that the girl was indeed their child.

Without knowing it, the Nurse family had been living within a couple of kilometres of their kidnapped daughter, while celebrating her birthday every year and never giving up hope of finding her.

Zephany, who is now said to be pregnant, has shunned the media spotlight on the case.